SUNBURY, Pa. (AP) — Newlyweds accused of luring a stranger through a Craigslist ad, stabbing him to death and dumping his body in an alley have been ordered to stand trial on charges including homicide, conspiracy and robbery.
Eighteen-year-old Miranda Barbour and 22-year-old Elytte Barbour pleaded not guilty at separate hearings Friday in the central Pennsylvania city of Sunbury.
They're being held without bail in the Nov. 11 death of 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara of Port Trevorton.
Police say Elytte Barbour told investigators that they wanted to kill someone together.
The couple, who were married in North Carolina and moved to Pennsylvania during the three weeks leading up to the crime, told police Miranda stabbed LaFerrara in the front seat of her car while her husband held a cord around his neck.
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A woman accused with her newlywed husband in the stabbing death of a stranger they lured with a Craigslist ad was ordered Friday to stand trial on homicide and other charges following testimony about their alleged confessions to police.
Miranda Barbour, 18, of Selinsgrove, admitted she stabbed 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara of Port Trevorton after meeting him in the parking lot of a central Pennsylvania mall, but claimed it was in self-defense, saying the victim had groped her and put his hand on her throat, state police Trooper Brent Bobb testified at her preliminary hearing.
Barbour pleaded not guilty. A preliminary hearing for her 22-year-old husband, Elytte Barbour, was scheduled for later Friday afternoon.
Police allege in court papers that Elytte Barbour told investigators they committed the crime because they wanted to kill someone together.
Authorities said Miranda Barbour, a petite woman with long brown hair, told investigators she met the 6-foot-2, 278-pound victim after he responded to her Craigslist ad offering companionship for money, and that they traveled in her car from Selinsgrove to Sunbury, a small city about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
Trooper Bobb, who interviewed Miranda Barbour, testified she told him that after LaFerrara attacked her in the car, she grabbed a knife and stabbed him two to four times, but he "didn't have a reaction." She said she then "blacked out and couldn't remember" what happened next, the trooper testified.
Interviewed separately, Elytte Barbour told investigators that he was hiding under a blanket in the back seat when his wife picked up LaFerrara and drove to Sunbury, where they parked, Sunbury police officer Travis Bremigen testified.
At a prearranged signal — a tap on his leg — the husband said he "popped up" and saw his wife stabbing LaFerrara, Bremigen said. He then pulled a black cable around the victim's neck, "holding Mr. LaFerrara tightly against the front passenger seat," the officer said.
Authorities said they found a black cable underneath the body, which the couple allegedly dumped in an alley in Sunbury. Northumberland County Coroner James Kelley testified that LaFerrara died of multiple sharp-force injuries, with strangulation possibly contributing.
Surveillance video played Friday showed the couple driving to a Walmart shortly after the crime, where Elytte Barbour purchased cleaning supplies they allegedly used to mop up the blood-soaked car.
The couple were married in North Carolina and moved to Pennsylvania about three weeks before the crime.
Elytte Barbour, in an interview with The Daily Item newspaper in Sunbury, defended his wife, calling her an entrepreneur who hired herself out through website ads to provide "delightful conversation" — never sex, he insisted — with lonely men who paid her as much as $850. He also maintained that she stabbed LaFerrara in self-defense.
On Friday, Bobb said Miranda Barbour was informed of her right to an attorney and told she could leave her interview with police at any time.
"She stated several times that she did not want to leave. She knew we were coming to get her eventually and she just wanted to get it over with," the trooper said.